09 Nov

Cameroon: stage set for inclusive and sustainable cities

The US$500 thousand project, which covers Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Morocco, Uganda and Zambia, has been commissioned within the 9th tranche of the UN’s Development Account

YAOUNDE, Cameroon, November 9, 2016/APO/ —

Some 30 senior officials from several Government Ministries in Cameroon are concerting to roll out an ECA-facilitated project to strengthen the capacities of African countries to transform their burgeoning cities into poles of inclusive and sustainable development. The US$500 thousand project, which covers Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Morocco, Uganda and Zambia, has been commissioned within the 9th tranche of the UN’s Development Account. It focuses on bringing the cross-sectoral needs of institutions in charge of national development planning, urban development, housing, industry, finance, agriculture, infrastructure, and statistics to the table in order to design and implement policies/strategies for cities that would engender growth, economic diversification, competitiveness, industrialisation, agriculture development, innovation, trade, employment and overall human development.

In launching the Cameroon-lap of the initiative today, the country’s Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development – H.E. Mr Louis Paul Motaze, who was flanked by Minister Jean Claude Mbwentchou of   Housing and Urban Development, thanked the ECA for choosing Cameroon as one of the pioneers of the project and reechoed the high stakes of integrating urbanisation in development planning.

“It is against this backdrop that in its long term development vision, Cameroon is working to create conditions for an integrated economic area in which it intends not only to master the development of cities to make them centres of production and consumption levels that are necessary for the growth of the industrial sector, but also to promote the emergence of peripheral settlements, and the development of medium or secondary towns capable of structuring economic activities in the urban space and helping in the development of surrounding rural areas,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile the Director of the Subregional Office for Central Africa of ECA, Mr Antonio Pedro, used the occasion to draw parallels between urbanisation and industrialisation, which is a key aspect for Africa’s structural transformation currently being emphasised by the Commission.

“Leveraging urbanisation for accelerated industrialisation is thus an important area for any narrative on urbanisation in Africa,” he said, while adding that “such a focus on industrialisation is not merely in relation to boosting national economic performance but would enable cities to be productive and create decent jobs while generating revenues to provide inclusive access to services, infrastructure and overall prosperity.”

Following the launch of the project, resource persons from ECA’s Social Development Policy Division are working with Cameroon’s National Implementation Team (NIT) charged with formulating a National Implementation Plan of the project for the period 2017 and 2018. They will set the steps, approach and means necessary to integrate urbanisation in the country’s development strategy. This cross-sectoral team will comprise experts in national development planning; finance and economic development; trade, infrastructure and industry; agriculture; housing and urban planning; and urban data and statistics, among others.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa ( UNECA ).

08 Nov

Africa’s Premiere Open-Publishing Platform Launches in East Africa, starting with Kenya

Launched in 2011, The Naked Convos (TNC) is Nigeria’s leading website giving young people the opportunity to tackle politics, relationships, sexuality, religion, sports, finance, feminism and more through their own lens and in their own words

The Naked Convos (TNC) (TheNakedConvos.com), Africa’s premiere open- publishing platform with over 1 million monthly page-views has today announced its expansion into East Africa, starting with Kenya (TheNakedConvos.co.ke).
The Naked Convos (TNC) open-publishing platform acts as a stage, allowing young Africans to amplify their own voice and break down any barriers to freedom of expression.

Launched in 2011, The Naked Convos (TNC) is Nigeria’s (TheNakedConvos.com) leading website giving young people the opportunity to tackle politics, relationships, sexuality, religion, sports, finance, feminism and more through their own lens and in their own words. The aspirations, ideas, and opinions on The Naked Convos (TNC) foster a vibrant conversation and often come back into the wider public through plays, web-series and anthologies, truly reflecting what it means to be young and African today.

The Naked Convos (TNC) offers to pay every single contributor for their writing through a calculated algorithm that takes into account both the number of hits on each post and the comments. With over 4000 published posts and 160,000 comments in a little over five years, The Naked Convos (TNC) remains a platform for raw, heartfelt pieces that capture the zeitgeist of a changing, dynamic Africa.

This strategic launch in Kenya is a major step in establishing The Naked Convos (TNC) as the pan-African open-publishing platform of choice. The Naked Convos (TNC) Founder, Olawale Adetula said “Over the years, we have seen a significant increase in contributors from outside Nigeria. This year, two of our three judges for The Writer (TheWriter.TheNakedConvos.com) – our online writing competition were non-Nigerian. A third of the 3000 + entries were from East Africa, and a majority of those came from Kenya! This is the right time for us to expand in Kenya, create an active presence within other countries on the continent and extend our lead as the foremost platform for expression in Africa.”

Lisa Mugera, Editor for The Naked Convos Kenya adds that “As Africans, we have a shared heritage, and we have a shared culture. This means that we also share the need to express ourselves without judgment. The Naked Convos (TNC) vision is to be a community where young Africans can safely express themselves, in line with our tagline – ‘Express You,’ and what better way to do this, than to expand to every country in Africa – starting with Kenya.”

Distributed by APO on behalf of The Naked Convos.

08 Nov

The Economist’s Nigeria Summit Shifts Focus on the Future of Nigeria’s Economy

Riding on last year’s successful summit, The Economist Events’ Nigeria Summit (http://APO.af/z2h9b8) has stated that the 2017 edition will explore strategic opportunities available for Nigeria’s economic growth as she seeks solutions to her current financial downturn. HE Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will deliver the opening address.

Delegates at the 2016 Summit concluded that “Nigeria needs to move quickly—the rest of the world is not waiting for Nigeria to catch up. But at the same time it should not risk having the policy reversals of the past”. Many delegates stressed that Nigeria must identify its main strengths, and then act decisively to support them. Herbert Wigwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, argued: “We need to prioritise and look at the sectors where we have the greatest efficiencies and where we can invest our resources to get the big impact that is required.”

Now in its 12th year, the Nigeria Summit has become one of the leading events in Africa where business, government and ideas people meet to chart a course for Nigeria’s economy. The 2017 summit will be a 2-day event, themed, “Paving the Way”, and will be held on March 6th and 7th 2017 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Other speakers for the summit include; Michel Arron, Head of Delegation to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, EU,  Paul Arkwright, High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, United Kingdom, Bilikiss Adebiyi, Chief Executive Officer, Wecyclers Corporation,Jonathan Rosenthal, Africa Editor, The Economist amongst others.

This year’s summit is expected to bring together more than 350 participants drawn from different walks of life including Nigeria’s public and private sectors, international business leaders, representatives of Nigerian civil society, international investors, economists and academics

According to The Economist Events, the discussion comes at a crucial time as Nigeria is facing an economic downtime. For the first six months of 2016 Nigeria has been in the grip of a severe foreign currency shortage.  Many businesses have been unable to import inputs from raw materials to machine parts as well as simple supermarket products. As the economy has slowed, foreign investors have pulled back. The number of unemployed and underemployed Nigerians has risen. The question then is how Nigeria can get out of her present economic quagmire?

“The 2017 Nigeria Summit will explore the economic and social progress discussed during the last summit, as well as provide an in-depth analysis on the way forward for Nigeria to return to its strong economic growth,” said, Jonathan Rosenthal, Africa Editor, The Economist. 

Attendees will be looking at a wide range of issues from the economic policy and diversification to digital disruption, manufacturing, power supply, and education during the panel discussions, which will be chaired by Jonathan Rosenthal.

Other topics to be discussed include; Nigeria on the regional and global stage, Securing a peaceful Nigerian future, Nigeria’s investment landscape from private equity to entrepreneurs, the future for Nigeria’s banking sector, Nigeria’s digital revolution, Skills and education-growing Nigeria’s people power, Powering Nigeria’s future etc. Being at the heart of the continent’s economic renaissance, speakers will also be expected to review Nigeria‘s role on the African continent as well as on a global stage.

Distributed by APO on behalf of The Economist Events.

07 Nov

Nigeria needs to part of the global green economy

The UK and Nigeria should look to strengthening bilateral collaboration on environmental safety

I would like to thank the Nigeria Environmental Society (NES) for hosting this event and for inviting me to give a short goodwill address today. My name is Paul Arkwright, and I am the British High Commissioner to Nigeria. I am going to share some thoughts on the theme of sustainable development and stakeholders’ participation in the green economy and how these relate to our environment.

Before I came to Nigeria, I was the UK’s Director for multilateral policy and so responsible for overseeing our input to and negotiation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The agreement to the SDGs was a truly significant moment. Seven of those Goals are designed to support the protection of the environment and green economic growth. Failure to act to support these goals could lead to significant and dangerous effects globally, even the extinction of the human race.

I believe we can do more to support growth and innovation in a new global green economy. Nigeria needs to be part of that positive agenda, and the global green economy, weakening its dependence on oil and strengthening its green industry. I firmly believe this is an area where we should look to strengthen our bilateral collaboration. This requires us to be innovative and to support research that can help to improve social and environmental safety. The UK and Nigeria are well-placed to do this together.

But first let’s talk about the risks. According to the 2011 Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) published by the UK-based risk company Maplecroft, climate change could result in a loss in GDP in Nigeria of between 6% and 30% by 2050, worth an estimated 100 to 460 billion US dollars. According to reports commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Development, if no adaptation is implemented, between 2-11% of Nigeria’s GDP could potentially be lost by 2020.

In addition to the global climate risks, there are immediate local impacts of the carbon economy in Nigeria. The 2011 UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report outlining the findings of an independent and comprehensive study of oil pollution in Ogoniland in Nigeria concluded that there were high levels of pollution exposing local communities to contaminated groundwater and soil.

So I commend the President Buhari and the Honourable Minister for the launch of the clean-up of Ogoniland in June, and we are aware one billion dollars has been committed by international oil companies to this oil clean-up exercise. We hope and expect that these funds will boost employment and drive development among Ogoniland communities devastated by contamination from spills.

In the UK’s bid to ensure a safe and secure environment, our Department for International Development (DFID) runs a £14 million Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform project to reduce the many incentives for misuse of power and capture of oil revenues in Nigeria. In part it also attempts to help address the environmental challenges in the Niger Delta.

Our UK minister for Africa, Mr. Tobias Elwood was in Nigeria recently and he visited Abuja and Port Harcourt. Minister Ellwood overflew part of the Niger Delta and saw first-hand the devastating environmental damage caused by decades of oil spills and the challenges of policing the riverine areas to prevent oil bunkering and illegal refineries. He and I visited a community in Ogale (Rivers state) that has been severely affected by oil spills caused in part by archaic pipeline infrastructure, and drew black and oil scented water from a well which, according to the UNEP 2011 report, held water containing 900 times the World Health Organisation level of benzene.

Our DFID funded FOSTER project has helped with establishing a strong foundation for support of the cleanup of Ogoniland by engaging with members of local communities drawn from four local Government areas in Ogoniland. Through this and other ways my team on the ground here in Nigeria is helping as we can, and I can assure you that the UK will continue to do so.

You can read the full story here: APO

07 Nov

Africa’s cities urged to bring technology to the masses

PRETORIA, South Africa, November 4, 2016/APO/ —

The annual Senior Experts Dialogue on Science, Technology and the African Transformation Agenda continued in South Africa Thursday with participants agreeing on the need for local government leaders across the continent to ramp up investment in technology and innovation to drive growth in cities, particularly at municipal level.

African innovators attending the SED 2016 believe that innovation needs to start at municipal level where governments engage directly with communities.

“It is good to talk about hubs of innovation in cities but hubs of innovation in dysfunctional cities will not work,” said Stellenbosch University’s Professor Mark Swilling.

He said from a governance point of view, most cities in Africa were dysfunctional with congestion, energy, water cuts and related issues that could hamper the progress being sought after.

“But from a people point of view, we have extraordinary abilities so the key to survival in African cities is how we learn and learn and re-learn in the blink of an eye to adjust, shift, take an opportunity and innovate. Africa has the extra-ordinary capacity for innovation but we have to love ourselves, our culture and capacity first rather than look elsewhere because we can do this,” said Mr. Swilling.

SED 2016 seeks to identify key elements and issues, based on local experiences, that African governments, along with their international development partners, can take into account in formulating action plans to turn their cities from manufacturing and trade hubs into innovation hubs and centres.

Participants emphasised the need for increased development of infrastructure for information communication technology (ICT) in order to empower the continent’s millions of young people.

While the world embraces the Internet of Things, African youth cannot be left behind, they agreed with Gideon Adogbo, Advisor and Special Assistant in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Nigerian Presidency, telling experts and representatives of member states attending the SED that without investing in the youth, Africa will lag behind in the ICT arena.

“Innovation must be turned into money or should help cities save money,” he said, adding over 152 million Nigerians were connected to the internet through their GSM phones creating huge opportunities for innovators.

Speaker Jonathan Muringani said African cities should be proactive in having the right policies that give innovators direction.

“Beyond a policy perspective, cities must move towards a management perspective and say how do we go about it and the how goes beyond just writing and talking about it into doing, identifying challenges that must be addressed, identifying needs of the citizens but also involving citizens in the process of innovation,” Muringani said.

Innovation, he said, should be sustainable, inclusive, ethical, responsive and futuristic, aiming to improve the quality of lives of the ordinary people otherwise it would not be worth it.

SED 2016 is expected to produce a policymaker’s guide and recommendations for consideration and adoption by African governments, their development partners and the private sector; a research and analytical report on “Cities as Hubs of Innovation in Africa” and policy briefs and working papers on STI on the continent.

SED, an initiative of the ECA, is being hosted by the Department of Science and Technology in South Africa. The initiative is designed to support Member States to harness STI to drive their economies

Experts from 21 African countries are attending the SED 2016. South African metros such as the Cities of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town are also attending.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa ( UNECA ).

04 Nov

Tanzania: Tourism in Zanzibar Booming

Zanzibar — The tourism sector in Zanzibar is booming with increased number of arrivals which puts the Indian Ocean archipelago on track to meet Vision 2020 growth targets.

According to the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI), tourists arrivals for half of 2016 had already exceed the number of arrivals recorded for the whole of 2015.

“We are on track for meeting the Vision 2020 target of reaching 500,000 tourists per year. What counts now is making sure that the Government listens to the private sector,” ZATI Chairman, Seif Miskry said in a statement.

He said there is a challenge for Zanzibar to remain competitive in the demanding tourism market by improving quality and address problems associated with taxation in the industry.

“We have to work together with the government to succeed in this goal,” he noted in a press statement issued yesterday. He applauded the recently concluded ZATI Tourism conference in Stone Town which attendees from both the private and public sector tourism stakeholder said it was a great success.

“The public sector and private sector went through a number of subjects, mostly concerned with the ease of doing business in Zanzibar, and now ZATI has a list of advocacy issues with which to follow up with the public sector over the next 12 months, on behalf of its members.

ZATI’s role is to represent the needs and interests of its membership to the public sector and so it is a key part of this is to bring the Government and the private sector together regularly. We have had such a good response from both sides, I am sure we will be repeating this event.”

He said the purpose of the conference was to re-launch a fresh new-look ZATI to coincide with the appointment of the new board, together with the publication of a new Zanzibar brochure, and bring together the tourism private sector for information sharing and discussions with the Zanzibar Government representatives on aspects of the tourism industry in Zanzibar and open up subjects for future dialogue.

There were 120 people attending from the private sector, including large and small hotels, tour operators, airlines and local businesses – both new and longterm investors, and both foreign and local investors.

He said the tourism sector of Zanzibar is one of the key areas driving towards Vision 2020 and Poverty Eradication. Tourism contributes more than 80 per cent foreign exchange in Zanzibar and provides the highest private sector employment. It enriches many of other industries including transport, communications, fisheries, farming, building, technology, and trading.

Distributed by AllAfric

03 Nov

New Regional Structure Set To Drive AGCO Expansion in Africa

LUSAKA, Zambia, November 2, 2016/APO/ —

AGCO, Your Agriculture Company (NYSE:AGCO) (www.AGCOcorp.com), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and solutions, has announced a realignment of its regional structure which will see an increase in its on-the-ground presence in Africa and a further expansion of the Company’s significant operations on the Continent.

Effective 1 January 2017, AGCO will restructure its Asia Pacific region to include Africa.  “With this new move, the realigned Asia Pacific and Africa (APA) region will be strongly positioned to leverage the synergies of similar market dynamics in the two territories,” says Gary Collar, newly-appointed AGCO Senior Vice President and General Manager, APA. “Among these key synergies are the emergence of a growing smallholder farmer segment, product and application similarities, shared consumer finance patterns and growing trade between the two regions.”

Mr Collar has been responsible for all AGCO’s activities in the Asia Pacific region, which includes China, India, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand, since January 2012. He brings wide experience and in-depth knowledge of the African market to his expanded role having previously held the position as AGCO Senior Vice President and General Manager Europe/Africa/Middle East for 7 years.

Reporting to Mr Collar, the AGCO Africa team will be led by Nuradin Osman who has been promoted to Vice President and General Manager Africa. To support the realignment and further boost service to customers and distributors, AGCO is to open a new regional headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa in early 2017 and a new Future Farm in French-speaking West Africa. These initiatives will complement AGCO’s existing parts distribution operation and training center in South Africa and Future Farm in Zambia.

Commenting, Nuradin Osman said: “The new regional structure will build on the significant progress that AGCO has made over recent years and further drive our customer service and business growth in Africa.”

Mr Osman has been with AGCO for 12 years and has a solid track record in growing the Company’s business in Africa. Prior to this new appointment, he was AGCO Director of Operations Africa and Middle East. He is a proven thought leader in Africa and instrumental in raising the profile of key issues such as the significance of mechanization, protein production and post-harvest storage solutions in strengthening the African agricultural sector. Mr Osman will have overall responsibility for all AGCO companies and brands in Africa with the exception of AGCO’s manufacturing operation in Algeria which is subject to a separate Joint Venture.

“Our core farm equipment Brands which include Challenger, Fendt, GSI, Massey Ferguson and Valtra are playing a critical role providing sustainable and inclusive mechanization solutions to boost the development of agricultural productivity on the African continent,” Mr Osman adds. “Our full line of mechanization, grain storage, seed processing and protein solutions support the complete spectrum of farmers from the emerging sector through to large, professional agribusinesses. As a result of continued investment in product, people, facilities and capacity-building, AGCO’s net sales have grown significantly on the continent in the past six years.”

Distributed by APO on behalf of AGCO Corporation.

02 Nov

North Africa continues to demonstrate private equity investment potential

Continued deal activity, more diversified exit routes and stable fundraising environment prove North Africa’s potential as an investment destination. The latest Spotlight on North Africa Private Equity (PE) compiled by the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) shows continued stability following a period of local, political, and global economic challenges.

Research findings highlight continued investor interest in the region, accounting for 15% of the total number of PE deals in Africa between 2010 and 2016H1. North Africa, which benefits from its proximity to Europe and its close commercial and diplomatic ties with France, continues to be driven by a strong manufacturing base and its demographic potential, as middle-class consumer demand continues to grow in sectors such as education, healthcare and retail.

A 139 PE deals were reported in North Africa from 2010-2016H1, with a total deal value of US$2.4bn. Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, among the most mature PE markets on the continent, continued to dominate investment in the region, with the triumvirate accounting for 95% and 94% of all deals made by number and value. The current investment cycle has identified increased investor interest in Morocco, which remains the leading country for investment in North Africa accounting for 46% in number of deals reported and 41% in value of deals between 2010 and 2016H1. With 40%, Egypt, in turn, accounted for the second largest share of PE deal value by country for the same period. In both instances, investors were attracted by increasing political stability and attractive company valuations.Findings further demonstrate an increasing number of exits in the last few years. A comparably steady number of 59 exits were reported from 2010-2016H1, with sales to trade buyers and PE firms accounting for a significant proportion due to the region’s beneficial proximity to Europe. The research also highlighted increasingly diversified exit routes available to investors in Tunisia and Egypt, which is attributable to historic investor interest in past investment cycles that have led to a combined total of 71% of the total number of exits reported and are now showing results. Exit findings overall indicate increasing intra-African investment, with a significant amount of PE capital targeting North Africa coming from pan-African funds. Foreign institutional investors, in turn, are showing signs of re-evaluating opportunities across the region this year as growing political stability and supportive policy reforms by local governments are creating a more favourable investment environment.

Commenting on the research findings, Ziad Oueslati, managing director and co-founding partner of AfricInvest and AVCA member, said: “North Africa is still one of the most attractive regions in Africa with an increasingly mature market for PE investment, which is demonstrated through the diversification of exit routes, including sales to other PE firms and IPOs. If political stability and new government reforms continue across key markets in North Africa, this will boost investor confidence even further.”

Sev Vettivetpillai, partner at The Abraaj Group and member of the AVCA Board of Directors, added: “North Africa continues to attract investors due to its strong manufacturing base and rising consumer demand in sectors such as education, healthcare and retail. Our outlook for investment in these sectors is positive as the region remains driven by a growing young middle class demographic and benefits from a large population and consumer market.”